From military-controlled caretaker government to military-backed elected government

Saleem Samad

Saleem Samad

The development in politics might not be “proactive”, out right contradicted by a media practitioner friend who conducted a political assessment of Bangladesh in November and returned to Ottawa, Canada. He does not hesitate to predict that politicking could be “provocative”.

A spontaneous reaction came from my long-term outspoken friend while in transit at Bahrain airport. He reacted after he saw my comments in the Facebook. If I understood his assessment that the transition from army backed caretaker government, would in fact switch to “army backed” elected government of proportionate representations from four major parties and some “selected” individuals.

A former Mukti Bahini officer a popular political commentator living in exile in New York agrees with him, but fears that incidences of civil unrest will occur soon after lifting state of emergency on December 17. He wraps up his theory that it will be an ideal situation for continuation of military subjugation in Bangladesh.

Nonetheless I am thrilled that Bangladesh is in transition to democracy – after two years of military-controlled interim government. Well Bangladesh is familiar of being governed by military juntas twice since 1975.

Therefore, it is not a new era for most citizenry, albeit not for those born after 1990 or was too young to understand, when military rule apparently ended with a sigh of relief. Thus the end of military rule paved way for the country’s first free, fair and credible election under a caretaker government.

At last the 9th parliamentary election will be held in the end of this December in midst of widespread fear, suspicion and conspiracy theories among the general public, specially those living in abroad.

Suddenly the constitutional democratic process were aborted by military chief Lt. General Moeen U Ahmed after he installed an interim government and terminated the scheduled elections in January 2007.

He promised the nation that he would halt criminalisation of politics, punish corrupt citizens – specially those who plundered public wealth, bring about electoral, judiciary and civil administrative reforms, and stamp organised crime, gangsters and put behind bars all evil-doers.

My argument does include whether the current interim government is legitimate or illegal, so long as they are bonded in broader promises that they will hand over power to a democratically elected government.

Well in his two years tenure as de facto leader of the impoverished nation of 150 million, he had to admit his failure and realised that the country needs to be governed by politicians and parliament, not by military generals who have failed to understand the sentiment of the people.

Will the political parties get equal opportunity for level playing field, a fair play? Apparently it seems NO. The Election Commission backed out from the (reformed) rules. Whereas the EC compromised certain rules to accommodate scores of “unwanted” applications for nominations. On the other hand, rejected hundreds of applications on the ground of not been able to follow the EC rules.

In the unfair play of game of politics, the four mainstream political parties have agreed to “proportionate parliament” and share with scores of other independent members in the new parliament to ensure checks and balance, which the military would like to see.

The four mainstream political parties Bangladesh Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP), Jatiya Party and Jamaat-e-Islami (sorry they have registered as Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami) and divided in two major political alliances. It is apparent that they have agreed on principle that they would share parliament by default thus keeping the militaries in good humour.

Of course General Moeen has in his mind that all the misdeeds and illegal activities of his interim government have committed need 9th parliament’s endorsement. On the other hand, he will not be happy if the parliament takes any attempt to pass any bills which will infringe his safe exit from the political, economic and administrative mess he has created.

He will also like to translate his dreams into reality through the incumbent parliament to pass the controversial National Security Council. Which most students of democratic accountability and democracy watchdogs have cautioned that the Turkish model of National Security Council would not at all be beneficial for transition to democracy and instead infringe the parliament’s power to scrutinise military activities. It will further institutionalise the military’s role in Bangladesh democratic process.

The pertinent question is will the parliament be sustainable? What most political observers is trying to fathom whether the parliament would need another election to restore democratic accountability and independence from the invisible military dictates. Possibly in another 12 months from now, Bangladesh would need another election to get out of this mess. It would be long way for Bangladesh to ensure democratic accountability, when the generals have an upper hand in state polity.

To conclude which political alliance will form the government? It all depends on who is not blaming General Moeen for their miseries of legal harassment and ordeal in prison. Any sorts of dissent will be punished by denial of their rightful share of the people’s mandate in the parliament, thus a faint chance of forming a national government.

Loser would those who question the legitimacy, criticise or accuse the interim government for conspiracy. In addition whoever is less outspoken or silent about conspiracy theories hatched by the kaki generals.

Saleem Samad [http://bangladeshwatchdog.blogspot.com] — an Ashoka Fellow — is a journalist best known for his investigative reporting on military oppression in CHT and Jihadist militancy in Bangladesh. Currently living in exile in Canada for his articles in Time, Tehelka.com, Daily Times. He specializes on intelligence, conflict, Islamic militancy in South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh.

[Read posts by Saleem Samad]


148 Responses to “From military-controlled caretaker government to military-backed elected government”

  1. Roopa

    People are fed up with this illegiimate government. Everybody is waiting eagerly to boot out this self-imposed illegitimate government run by a man who had never been either a DC(district commissioner) or a secretary to the government. It’s a shame for Bangladesh. Fakruddin and Moin should immediately go. I hope they are not hatching any new conspiracy to derail democracy in Bangladesh any farther. We have seen enough of lousy bad governance exhibited by an unelected illegal government.
    People just want an elected government at helm as soon as possible.

  2. Sheeuli Karim

    Two years have been wasted. Emergency is finally gone. Two years of sky high prices, inhumane treatment of former prime ministers, gross violation of human rights, false accusations, fascist emergency powers and governance of the country by clerical staff of failed international organisations like the World Bank have taken us 20 years back as said by Khaleda Zia. These paid agents deliberately slowed down the economy to help ailing Western economies. Yunus should be tried for treason for selling Bangladesh’s interests to his mentors through purchase of Boeings and signing PSCs for offshore oil rigs at a time when his mentors knew that the US economy would crash. Yunus, I am sure keeps company of corrupt Wall Street elements like Madoff who cheat people all over the world to amass wealth in the amount of $50 billion.

  3. Abbas Siddiqui

    Opening the major road through Dhaka Cantonment for the public

    It is very sad to see that one of the major roads running through Dhaka Cantonment is not allowed for public use by the military police. This is causing major traffic jams in an already severely clogged city.The army has no right to deprive the public of their due civic rights. This can only happen in an uncivilized fascist country run by blockhead military junta. Since three retired generals, Ershad, Hannan Shah and brahim are running from the same constituency in Dhaka, I ardently appeal to their democratic senses to immediately open the road forpublic use. I especially appeal to General Ershad since he is most likely to be elected from the constituency that includes Dhaka Cantonment and his great contribution in the past to develop Dhaka city. I also appeal to all three generals to secure all lands in Tejgaon industrial area and Hatir Jheel illegally grabbed by land dacoits including Fazle Hassan Abed of BRAC (Aorong store and Nursery illegally grabbed/acquired land along Tejgaon Road and BGMEA Bhaban in Hatir Jheel lake) by demolishing the illegal structures. It is alleged that Abed has bribed the army handsomely and has been able to avoid demolition while all other structures in the lake zone has been razed to the ground. NO ONE NO MATTER WHOSHOULD BE SPARED.

  4. famim

    All I want to see is the return of democracy in Bangladesh. This illegitimate military-backed headed by a spineless coward like Fakruddin must go!

  5. Farrukh Islam

    Whatever the military backed interim government did, finally they kept their promise. Adminstration is thankless job. But finally I must thank this government. I just can not forget their treatment with du teachers and students.
    still i thank them.

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